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17 April 2011

Foglie d'Ulivo con Spinaci, Pollo & Peperone (Spinach, Chicken & Pepper)

Foglie d'ulivo means olive leaves.   This is the first time I saw this type of pasta, my husband included.   There's nothing much written about it in the internet which makes me certain that this is not a classic shape.  I couldn't even find it in the list of classic & new types of pasta.  As far I can find out, it is produced only in some regions of Italy namely Liguria, Campania, Toscana & Puglia.  My foglie d'ulivo came from Puglia.

I wanted to cook something without tomatoes this time.  As much as my household loves tomatoes, I think we need a break sometimes.  I have some fresh red peppers and some chicken fillets I was planning to do roll-ups with.  I nicked a few from each and grabbed a small pack of spinach in the fridge.  With the three main ingredients available, I chanced upon a simple recipe from Donna ModernaIt's perfect.  It's fast, easy and can be on the table before my children notice their hunger pangs.  I am not a big planner on what I cook.  Aside from not having the extra time to browse around the internet or read the cookbooks for ideas much in advance, my brain only starts whirring when faced with the ingredients in the kitchen.

Chicken and bell peppers have always been partners.  Spinach goes with almost anything because it has a very mild taste.  I was worried that this pasta would come out insipid, but instead, the blending of the flavours was pleasantly subtle.  Both kids ate it with zest, which is the important thing.

I changed a few things in the recipe.  I halved the spinach because I didn't have enough, put more white wine, lessened the pasta and chicken and finally, cooked the chicken a few minutes longer.  I  have a paranoia of undercooked chicken (and pork).  I cooked only one pepper but both my husband and I agree that it needs more so I recommend adding another one to the singular pepper the original recipe was asking for.

Foglie d'Ulivo con Spinaci, Pollo & Peperone (Spinach, Chicken & Pepper)

Serves 4
  • 300 g. foglie di ulivo pasta or other kinds of short pasta
  •  extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded & diced   
  • 200 g. chicken, diced 
  • 1/2 cup white wine 
  • 250 g. fresh or frozen spinach, chopped coarsely
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bunch of basil, chopped 

  1. Boil some water in a cooking pot for the pasta.  When it boils, add some salt and the pasta. Follow the number of minutes suggested in the pasta package.
  2. Over medium heat, in a saucepan with extra virgin olive oil, sautè the onion.  When it colors, after about 2 minutes, add the bell pepper and the chicken.  Sautè until the pepper becomes tender and the chicken starts to toast, about 8 - 10 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and let it evaporate with high flame for a couple of minutes. 

4.   Add the spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper.   

5.   Add the basil and the cooked pasta with the chicken.  Toss for about a couple of minutes before turning off the fire.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil before serving.